Local hiking group takes it all in stride
Sussex County is well-known for its scenic beaches and popular state parks, and the Delaware Easy Striders – a Sussex County-based hiking group – can attest. Earlier this week, the group – founded in 2007 by Pete Gisler as part of Walk Delaware, a Delaware Senior Olympics (DSO) affiliate – was recognized as the top hiking group in the state for groups of 80 to 150 members.
“Our group has been growing each year since we started,” said a pleased Gisler, “and it continually grows and grows. Last year, when we’d have 30 hikers out for a walk, that was a good day. This year, we’ve had a number of hikes where we hit 50 walkers. Nearly every hike includes over 40 walkers. Participants come and go, too. We’ve probably had over 300 participants over the past few years. A quarter of the people who hike with us now have been here since the start.”
In addition to walking, participants can run, swim and bike to accumulate miles, as well. Different exercises vary in contributed distance, based on difficulty. For example, three miles on a bicycle would convert to a mile of walking. In the past year’s timespan, the Easy Striders accumulated 20,986 miles walking, 11,871 biking and 1,194 running.
Throughout the past year, Gisler held weekly hikes between early October and late May, while participants send in monthly reports of time and miles accumulated on their own terms. The weekly hikes are held, on a rotating schedule, through local state parks, spanning from Assawoman Wildlife Refuge to northern areas such as Killen’s Pond.
The idea for the Easy Striders came to Gisler when he wanted to introduce a club similar to what he had experienced back in New Jersey.
“When I couldn’t find a group, I decided to start one,” he said. “The group has grown every year, from a handful of hikers to the 110 members I now have on the list.”
The group’s slogan, “Fresh air and friendly faces,” has beckoned more and more participants, as additional exercises and activities – including trivia nights, kayaking tours and Frisbee golf – help to bring new excitement for the Striders.
“It’s a great way to make friends and live a healthy, active life,” said Gisler. “Everyone really enjoys it.”
To qualify for the Walk Delaware program, participants must be 50 or older, but the Easy Striders hiking group is open to adults of all ages. Participation in the group costs $5 per person each year, which covers administrative costs. Individuals interested in joining the Easy Striders can contact Pete Gisler at email@example.com or by calling (302) 945-7302.
For additional information, including pictures from past walks and upcoming schedules, visit http://web.mac.com/petegis. The next scheduled hike will take place on Sunday, Dec. 18, at Prime Hook Wildlife Preserve at 1:30 p.m.